Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Love Day

It's Valentine's Day and just this moment we got the call...the U.S. government has approved our adoption! They like us; they really like us! We thought we would be having an interview, etc. at the consulate but actually we were just instructed to wait in our room this morning to hear that our documents were in order. The document assemblage on Sunday was apparently all Jason needed to make our case this morning. Hooray!

Jarrah is slurping on some Liquilytes and will hopefully be asleep soon, and David and I can get down to the business of showering, blogging and ordering lunch from Danny's Bagel, which is where we've gotten our lunch every day. It's run by some New York expats and we have confirmed that they make a decent bagel, in addition to pizza and other yummy stuff. This afternoon we have what Paul called "the perfect shopping trip," evenly divided between a pearl market and a DVD market. I don't really understand what a DVD market is (does it have something to do with those portentous piracy ads they show before movie previews?) but I can let you know later.

Last night was a hard night. The little one was up screaming inconsolably about five different times, with the result of us never getting more than 1-2 hours sleep at a stretch. We checked her diaper, her temperature, her thirst, her cuddle needs, gave her Tylenol, and nothing seemed to help. At one point I did manage to sing her into a stupor, but the second we tiptoed away she shrieked again. Parents out there: what do you think is happening here? So far we haven't had a single uninterrupted night, but in the mornings she is an increasingly delighted and playful child. We'd love to establish some habits that would help her sleep through the night, but we can't imagine what those are!

Yesterday was a fun day and I felt like I had more energy. Which is surprising because the morning was action-packed. Those of you who have commented on our busy schedule, I am beginning to agree with you that this is just kooky! We had to get up, changed, dressed, breakfasted and on the bus by 9:30, and then we had a tour organized by CCAI. First stop, the Six Banyans Temple, which is incredibly old but I forget how much. It's beautiful, with a massively tall tiered pagoda, but strangely squashed between shops on a busy urban street. The shrines with gold Buddhas and ancestral offerings and incense reminded me a bit of Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong, though of course these Buddhas couldn't rival Po Lin in size. We played a good fortune game where we had to throw a coin through a high hole shaped like a stop sign in the center of a tall dragon urn, and then walk around the urn touching the dragons for good luck. It took me a couple tries, but I'm happy to say I got a coin in! The nicest part was the Buddhist blessing ceremony for the babies. We took off our shoes and kneeled in one of the shrines while two monks chanted rhythmically and tapped a gourd-shaped instrument that emitted the most gorgeous low tones. The babies had been fussing when we brought them in to the blessing area, but as soon as they heard the chanting and music they were all mesmerized. It was a lovely moment.

From the temple we rode to some sort of jade and porcelain market that I found mostly crapcake. Mary said it reminded her of a mini-mall in Mira Mesa. There was even a car dealership on the first floor. The shops featured the world's most ginormous tchotchkes, some of them gaudy as all get out. I am not a fan of the dusting, so I wasn't tempted.

By the last stop, most of the babies were weepy and struggling. And, dear readers, I can tell I'm becoming a mom because my main thought was "Oy, this is very bad scheduling--these children are missing their naps right now." It's too bad because the Folk Art Museum was amazing, especially the room with the embroidery tapestries, so intricate they seem to have been painted. Jarrah passed out in her stroller and then was Miss Crankypants when we tried to get her back to sleep in the room. It was a long morning of bus trips for a group of people with new babies.

We did manage a nap and a quiet lunch on the bed, which was good because I was worried about our afternoon committment--the government physical. We wheeled the babies to the other side of Shamian Island to a glaring fluorescent Health Center, packed with men and women in white coats and echoing with the screams of peeved children. I was completely horrified, and it made it worse that Jarrah was in such a sweet mood after her nap, smiling and playing peek-a-boo with us in the lines for the exam stations. At the first station, the doctor and nurse began by having some sort of screaming conversation over our heads which gave me an anxiety attack--I thought they were yelling about Jarrah, but it turned out to be unrelated. We had three stations, and she had her heart, head circumference, belly, ears, nose, throat, eyes and weight checked by the time we were done. And not to brag, but I think our daughter might have done the best. ;) She had a very brief wail towards the end, but mostly seemed interested throughout the proceedings. By the time we'd wheeled her back out to the sidewalk, she was ready for some bun and seemed to have forgotten the whole sorry business.

On the way home, I was feeling really good for some reason. We stoped at the Blenz coffee house and got table on the street, where we could watch the local traffic (and the adopted babies) going by. We have a bit of a joke about this place because every beverage has the suffix "-chillo" at the end. We had various 'Chillos (mango, mocha, pineapple...) and had fun feeding them to the babies from tiny spoons. They make the most incredible faces when the Chillo hits their tongue; they are all accustomed to extremely hot beverages and I think that the icy sensation freaks them out. This was followed by some more fun baby shopping (I am addicted to the adorable fruit-covered clothing you can buy here) and two more pairs of squeaky shoes...oh no! :)

Speaking of squeaky shoes, I think they are an amazing development tool. Since Jarrah got hers, she has been very eager to practice walking, and yesterday in the Swan Room, she walked a few steps on her own for the first time that we know of. We have a game where David and I sit a few feet apart and put our arms out, and she totters like a sailor on shore leave into them, grinning like a madman. It's so cute it hurts. Today we played this game several times, and I think it is also helping her trust my touch a bit. She happily comes to me while the game is going on, arms outstretched, and lets me grab her, hug and kiss her, and turn her around to go back to Daddy when we're done. This is a pretty big break-through for us. In general, she is getting a bit more comfortable with me around. Instead of just looking for Daddy's reaction when she does something adorable, she now cranes around to see if I'm watching, too. And I'm allowed to kiss her and hold her hands more. She still doesn't let me pick her up without shrieking, and she still freaks if she sees it's not Daddy pushing her stroller, but it's only been a week, after all.

Gone are the days of the quiet, serious child who sat stoically on the bed with her biter biscuit; welcome to the crazed toddler who has remodeled the room every time you turn your back for a second. She has also learned to crawl and does so very fast, reaching for anything and everything on the floor to squash, break or stuff in her mouth. She's also worked out the drawers in here, which could be lethal if we were staying longer, and during diaper changes she is busy grappling the diaper accessories out of our hands. When sitting in her high chair (also a brand-new skill, and she is learning to use a spoon) she throws her hands in the air, crunchs up her entire face and laughs in this snorfly way, like we are all just so ridiculous she can't stand it. She also points at us, nods and shakes her head vigorously, and taps my arm if I get distracted feeding her a snack. Right now she is holding her changing pad over her head with both hands, swaying from side to side in time with the piano music piped into the room. When you look at her, she smiles coyly, bats her long lashes, and then emits a sound that sounds like "gachhh!"

Okay, so I'm having a lot of fun watching her. Last night we had such a lovely time at Lucy's Cafe (thanks, Lynette!) at an outdoor table (it doesn't get any colder here at night) with two fabulous high chairs that brought the girls even with our table. Everyone loved their food, the atmosphere, and the fun of watching the girls feed themselves. Sure, we made a huge mess, but at least we were outside. :) Afterwards we walked back next to the river, admiring the buildings all lit up on the other side. I had my sentimental moment for Guangzhou, feeling very proud of David and me and enchanted with our new daughter, and privileged to be having this amazing trip as a rite of passage to getting to know her.

Back to this afternoon. The trip to the market was sort of crapcake. We took a crazy taxi ride into downtown Guangzhou, and it was even more frenetic and stinky than downtown Chongqing. I felt overwhelmed by the smell and the humidity and the crush of people around us (though no one was staring now) and then the market turned out to be a mall filled with shops selling gems and pearls, each of them averaging about 90 degrees inside. From the moment we arrived I wanted to get the hell out of there. And then the promised DVD market ("more like DVD kiosk," Paul said) was very small and so smoky I couldn't deal. Jarrah's hair was plastered to her head with sweat. We ended up getting a cab by ourselves back to the hotel. I wasn't sure if it was my sleep deprivation, travel weariness, or general disgust that made the outing so unpleasant.

When we got back, David and I had a romantic Valentine's moment by pushing the stroller over to Blenz, where I received a red rose and some chocolates (how sweet!) along with my 'Chillo. We sat at a cozy table for two, with the stroller in between us, its occupant offering a regular refrain of "Mah!" when we didn't give her a bite of our snack quickly enough.

Tonight we went Lucy's again, but I was so tired and the place so crowded that the experience was not as delightful. The girls were both fidgety, and it was a struggle to get some food into them and us. I have been getting stomachaches from shoveling my food and directing incoming traffic to Jarrah's mouth (either myself or through David) at the same time. I couldn't help thinking about all the romantic Valentine's dinners David and I have had together and how they are no doubt over for some time. And I felt like I was the third baby at the table when I demanded that there be no more talk of poopy diapers for the rest of the meal. Everyone made jokes after that about how our table was the "No Poop Zone." All in all, I think I am ready to go home. Out in front of the restaurant, we saw a blackboard posted for the holiday that read "Happy Varlentine Day." As Jarrah would say, "Gachhh!"

Next Entry


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam & David & Cutie-Pie:

I believe the reason Jarrah keeps waking up at night is probably two-fold:

1) Jarrah wants to go home,too. She's ready for a regular routine, in one place.

)She's disoriented at night, and a little frightened because can't see you,or figure out where she is; it has only been a week since her life was turned upside down.
I also think she views her crib as a prison. :)

But she does seem to be a good traveler, enjoys stimulation, and activity. Things to bear in mind when you are home.

Thanks again, Sam & David, for taking us along on this great adventure. Wow! What a trip! :)

Best, Gail

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentine's Day and have a safe trip home. We can't wait to see you all.

Traveling and so much change is notorious difficult for small children and sleep patterns. Once you get home and start a bedtime routine I'm sure that it will settle down. We didn't realize how much our girls depended on it until we tried to skip it one night (they would have none of that). I'd be more than happy to share what we do when you get back.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam!

I agree with Gail: Jarrah is probably still a little disoriented and scared, and routine is very reassuring for children who have been on routines all their lives (and children in general).

Anton loves his crib. Every baby is different, but he will actually climb into his (it is quite the acrobatic fete) when he is tired. The crib in the hotel room is not her crib, though, so it is probably a little scary.

Here is a wacky idea (although based on some theory): give her a transition object. This could be a stuffed toy or blankie (small, so she cannot bury her face in it when she sleeps), that she has during the day in her stroller, etc., and can take to bed with her at night. Rub the object on yourselves so that it picks up your scent (I know, let the giggling commence :-)). Babies and toddlers have an extremely acute sense of smell. This way when she wakes up at night she will immediately see and smell something familiar. Don't worry if the object gets a little stinky or dirty. The object will also help when you transition her to her crib here in San Diego.

One last thought: if my teething theory is correct, Tylenol wears off after 4 hours. If you have any Infant's Motrin I would use that at night, as it lasts longer: 6 to 8 hours.

You guys sound (and look) like you are doing great! We are so proud of you! :-)

Please give our little ladies a kisses and hugs for Valentine's Day.

Love, Lisa, James & Anton

Anonymous said...

Hey guys! Happy Valentine's Day! Things are certainly sounding brighter, and the cuteness of the picture in the green outfit is just overwhelming me. (Along with the one of the girls in Valentine outfits!)

I had to laugh at your comment about the scheduling and the naps - you really are a mom!

I wish I had advice about sleeping - instead, I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to read everyone else's advice and store it away for the summer. :)

aaryn b. said...

Hello from the "All Poop Zone: All Day, Every Day". And welcome. Schedule, schmedule I say. Just when you think you have 'em on a routine, they'll say gachhhhh (or, as Ruby likes to say, grrrrrrrrr) and then skip the nappy nap. Seriously though, things will get easier once you're home and on your own turf.

By the way, Ruo-Ruo is flipping adorable in that green get up! I keep showing her pics to all the women in my office and explaining to them through tears and snorts, that this is my friends' beautiful little daughter. Sigh.

As for the sleeping, here's my two cents (I can already hear the tsk-tsking from other readers): have you tried bringing her into bed with you? We do this with Ruby. Not all night but ususally in the morning hours. We change her diaper and then wedge her between us for the remainder of our sleeping time. Just a thought. Perhaps Jarrah is missing all of the people/children she was around at the orphanage and proximity to your warm bodies might help calm her.

The pics look great and she appears to be taking to you, Sam. Not only that, but all three of you look very, very happy. I know you must be exhausted but there is a contendedness that I don't believe was there a month ago.

Gotta run.
Hugs and kisses to you all.

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you.

From now on, our hearts are outside our bodies. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentine's Day to you.

From now on, our hearts are outside our bodies. :)

Anonymous said...

Sam & David,

I haven't been too good at keeping up with the blog but sat down & read the whole thing today. And as a scrolled down to get to the first post I hadn't read, I saw a smiling happy baby & thought how beautiful she is.

I read from bottom to top, oldest posts first & saw that Jarrah's smiling & laughing had been a transition. But I knew it would happen. Y'all have been a family for so long, even before you all got to be together physically.


Anonymous said...

I am in love! What a Valentine's Day! Can't get enough of that beautiful smile - it is positively contagious. :)

Anonymous said...

Guess what we just got in the mail, today, the 14th, very auspicious day? :) A day to remember...
L and M

Anonymous said...

It's official - Congratulations!!

I am so glad the bonding has started- amazing what a few days can bring.

Wishing you a safe and pleasant return home.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam,
I think everyone has good advice about Jarrah's night meltdowns. Besides being scared or possibly teething she may also be overtired. I know it's hard to have regular naptimes in China with the appointments and tours. Some babies have trouble sleeping at night and get fussy if they are over tired. You may want to try making sure her nap times are consistant as possible. I remember cutting short a shopping trip to take a taxi back to the hotel so Ava could nap (Yes..me the super shopper!).

In addition, Jarrah is probably still grieving and being tired at night makes it all feel worse. She may just need a good cry.

Have a safe and quiet trip back home!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sam and David,

Yes, it is time to come home! I just want to re-iterate how much I love reading your blog. You really had a very amazing trip, and you should all be very pound of it. I admire your courage. Look at how happy you look in the pictures. The journey is so worthy it.

See you home soon,

Yinghong & Christopher

Amy said...

Sam, David, and Jarrah are on their way home! We can't wait to see you all!
Did I mention WOOHOO!
Big "Welcome Home" hugs,
Amy, Jeff, Maya, and Zoe :)

Anonymous said...

okay, it's official. with the exception of my daughters, jarrah is THE cutest baby in the world! (perhaps it could be a three-way tie.) i love her perfectly round head and chubby cheeks. and that smile!

as for night, nina continued to wake often during the night for several weeks after we got home. she would cry and kick and fling herself about in the bed (our bed!) so we had to be careful to keep our heads out of the way when that happened. having her in our bed made it simpler to get her back to sleep. we'd just pat her and talk in soothing tones for a few seconds.

i think you're going to have to bite the bullet ;-) family bed is the way to go. king size is a must.

love, jalan